The last few days of our trip, we headed up to Star Valley, WY for an extended Hale Family reunion. The last one of it's kind was 20 years ago! My Grandpa "Pop" grew up in Afton, WY, with his one sister and seven brothers. Can you imagine!? Mom and Dad were unable to attend, because Dad was having back surgery that same day. It was too bad they missed it. Many of his cousins asked about him and sent him best wishes.
I've never been to a large, extended family reunion before, and wasn't sure what to expect. It was a lot of fun, and very well-planned by those in charge. Each extended family was given a color to wear for the reunion, so we would know which sibling they belonged to. The colors of blue, red and white were the most well-represented, but I was proud of us for making a bright showing with our yellow shirts!
The reunion was held at Lyle and Jeannette's "Rainbow Ranch" (named for the plentiful Rainbow Trout in the area), which was nestled in a peaceful valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. It had a beautiful boardwalk and gazebo, ponds, grassy lawns, a zipline and four-wheelers galore!
This is Great Uncle Al. He's Pop's youngest brother. He looks just like Pop, even down to the chunky ring on his finger. All those Hale boys seemed to all have Andy's build, don't you think?
This is Great Aunt Jeannette.
Thanks to Jeannette, we were all able to enjoy the day on their property. It was great to see all of her posterity (blue shirts) who were present. You could tell their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were very comfortable on the ranch and had spent a lot of time there. They felt very at home with the surroundings. She had a huge smile on her face the whole time. We could tell it really brought her a lot of joy to have all of the family there.
Take a look at that family! I don't think this was all of them, either!
One of Dad's cousins, Lisa, became our fast friend and introduced us to everyone and answered any questions we had. She was the MC for the program. She was impressed that so many of us made the effort to attend. That made me really happy we made the effort; you could tell it really meant a lot to them. She had each family stand, and told us some interesting facts about each Hale sibling, and then presented superlative awards. Our family won for the longest distance traveled (Dawn & Jon from North Carolina), and most number of kids (nine of us).
This cousin won for the oldest cousin. Sorry, Dad. I can't remember his name! It was fun to look around and see so many family resemblances: tall, strong jaws, and really good-looking people, if I do so say myself!
There was plenty to do there at the ranch, and we kept busy all day:
Visiting with other yellow-shirted cousins,
Enjoying the beautiful scenery,
Eating lots of good food,
Reading up on fishing regulations,
Although this wasn't our familiar stomping ground, it was so nice to rub shoulders and get a chance to meet cousins face-to-face, that we never would have otherwise.
The next day our little family had to high-tail it home, but our Aunt Janet and her kids and our siblings took the opportunity to go visit the house Pop grew up in.
As well as visit the graves of great-grandparents. I'm sure it made them happy to see all of their family gathered together.
Elder Gene R. Cook gave a talk in 1976 entitled "Seek Eternal Happiness". In it he said:
"I would suggest one other great source of happiness of the many I know of--your family. I am pleased to know that the First Presidency--Presidents McKay, Brown, and Tanner--quoted the Lord in a piece of written material that went out to the Church a few years ago. They said this, and because they said it I feel free to quote them: "That there is great joy and rejoicing in your posterity, giving one of the great purposes of life--joy and rejoicing in your children" (Policy letter, 14 April 1969). I don't know of anything that has brought me more joy than being married and having a lovely wife who holds the same objectives I do and having children who are striving to learn the truth. A family brings to a man great joy."